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Sat June 21 2008 10:09:59

Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

By: Ina Steiner

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There's a disconnect between what I'm hearing from eBay executives, and what I'm hearing from sellers and vendors, here at the eBay Live show. Booing during a keynote has happened before - when Bill Cobb mentioned the rollback of Stores in Search back in 2006. This year the booing was about the feedback changes eBay rolled out on May 12, 2008.

But I've never before seen sellers upset to the point they regularly erupted in loud disagreement to eBay presenters, as they did in the Feedback session yesterday. (Author and freelance writer Greg Holden, who is our AuctionBytes blogger this week, live-blogged the event.) There's also a YouTube video showing a man going ballistic at one of the sessions. 

The feedback changes rolled out one month ago, and a number of sellers have been talking about an increase in UPIs (non-paying buyers), and an attitude from buyers that they now have all the time in the world to pay for items. eBay's Stephanie Tilenius told me the UPI rate has not increased. That's surprising to hear, though it's still a bit early. 




Just like many sellers, vendors fear retribution from eBay, and of course, they don't want to scare off customers by being too negative. I've come to learn that larger vendors are realists, so they will either adapt or adjust their business models (BuySafe is rather a good example of this). It's not so clear whether small vendors will weather the changes.

Meanwhile, if I hadn't spoken with sellers and vendors, I'd have a very positive impression of eBay. The managers I've spoken with at DevCon and eBay Live seem focused and determined, and believe in the projects they are working on. I was very impressed with Jamie Iannone's belief in his vision of search (though I'm not sure eBay as a catalog is better than eBay the way it is now, though it may only be rolled out in certain categories where it makes sense). It's certainly a very different way of shopping - I believe the new concept may be similar to the Wigix site I wrote about.

As far as execs, I have a feeling they either don't get it, or get it and won't admit it. And what I mean by don't get it is that they don't recognize sellers' are upset to the point of leaving. The official spin on unrest is "change is hard," which is a big part of it, but the (sometimes nasty) desperation I'm seeing is from sellers who feel they don't have control of their businesses, don't know what eBay might throw at them next, and some of whom are pulling out their hair stuck between poor customer service from eBay and abusive buyers, others who fear encountering bad buyers and how it will affect their businesses.

During the keynote session, Lorrie Norrington spoke about cherishing small sellers like Denise from good-dog-jack, and relayed her experience of buying a pair of shoes on eBay and then selling them to a buyer in France. It would appear they still want those eBay-like experiences, but on an Amazon-like platform.

Where eBay Is Headed
It's no surprise to industry observers that eBay is moving toward a more Amazon-like system - and all the signs are here at the show. eBay is becoming a site in which listings are more generic and the site is more of a catalog than an eclectic bazaar, and in which the buyer has the most consistent experience with search and with Checkout, and of course, a system where eBay processes most of the transactions via PayPal.

Skype, one of the companies composing "the Power of Three" from a few years back, was not mentioned much, if at all. While it was listed as an exhibitor in a list I had printed out on June 2 from the eBay website (booth 950), it is not in the guide being handed out to attendees. I have yet to check the exhibit hall, but someone told me eBay cancelled Skype at the last minute.

The Town Hall meeting is set for 11 am, and I'm expecting a lively debate.

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Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: The Lurker Below

Sat Jun 21 17:07:02 2008

JJH, you wrote: ''As for the video of the seller who lost it during the feedback meeting,''

- If you mean the same YouTube clip being spammed all over the Seller Central discussion board, that video is an embarrassment more for the seller than for eBay. I thought he was going to poop his pants and start rolling around on the floor kicking his feet like a two-year-old. I couldn't laugh because it just made me cringe. It's a terrible way for sellers to present themselves, and I can't see it as something to be proud of. I guess tantrums are what passes for standing up for yourself these days. Unfortunately eBay came out looking better than the seller in that video and I don't think anybody wanted that to happen.

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by: JJH

Sat Jun 21 17:13:37 2008

The video that's reference above, in Ina's text - first paragraph. I don't know if that's the ''same'' video referenced elsewhere, as it's the only one I know of and just saw today.

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by: nedski

Sat Jun 21 18:02:29 2008

Buried in the content of Ina's post is a mention of buySAFE adjusting their business model.  I'm new to this site, so perhaps I missed it - what, why, how?

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by: bite me

Sat Jun 21 18:59:05 2008

@ angryjim Sorry I meant fixed price listings. Anyways, all this is leading towards ebay using an SKU model which they use on half.com. The SKU model works, but wouldn't work on ebay. At least, not with the all the variety of sellers and items. Plus amazon does this better anyways.

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Kal

Sat Jun 21 19:07:57 2008

@Ina:

''As far as execs, I have a feeling they either don't get it, or get it and won't admit it. And what I mean by don't get it is that they don't recognize sellers' are upset to the point of leaving. The official spin on unrest is ''change is hard''

Ina, the executives of this company will never admit they made a mistake. NEVER. If they were to do that, the board could dismiss them for ''poor stewardship of the company''. The stockholders would run them out on a rail. I'm no authority of the law, but perhaps they could be brought up on some charges. For what though, I don't know.

JD and ''crew'' are never going to admit any of this was a mistake to implement. Should it be necessary, change will come slowly, almost imperceptible, back to the way it was. The stockholders, for some reason will never detect it. The seller & buyer population will.

Do I think it will change back? No, I don't.

Speaking of JD, what the heck was all that with bringing his parents into this? Who gives a damn about his parents? Meg never trotted her family into any of this. What a dork.

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by: Daisy

Sat Jun 21 19:13:19 2008

While I agree the outburst from the man in the video was childish, it sure was an attention grabber. I kind of think that's what it took to get Ebay's attention. They would not listen. It seems they're getting a clue now. We can only hope. But don't hold your breath.

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by: JJH

Sat Jun 21 19:26:29 2008

I don't think it was childish. Sometimes you have to stand up and say "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!". That's what this guy did. He sure got their attention. Will it make a difference? Time will tell.

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by: billieboy

Sat Jun 21 20:58:05 2008

Am I the only one who finds it ironic
that the president of eBay marketing
uses an auction in which she lies about the origin of the item (gift) as an example of building trust?
She bought those shoes the were not  a gift..Are shoes considered as new after they have had 2 owners?

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by: Misty

Sat Jun 21 21:16:13 2008

I sure wish I could get a look at these shoes and profile ;)

Glad your back with us Ina!

I wish there had been more people like the guy in the video to bring this nightmare to everyones attention once and for all.

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: billieboy

Sat Jun 21 21:22:54 2008

Misty
read the blog at the top of the page and click on ''selling''...thats a link to the shoes and the profile
They will have a difficult time covering this one up...major mistake mentioning that auction in the keynote speech..
even worse using it as an example of ''trust''
They are clueless
You gettin all this Ina?...:)

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Misty

Sat Jun 21 21:36:50 2008

Woohoo Thank you billieboy I owe you one sweet cherry pie ;)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sat Jun 21 22:05:44 2008

Lorrie Norrington's ebay buying and selling history is simply a microcosm that succinctly illustrates the utter lack of ethics of the current birds of a feather amoral management team.

They believe that deceit, lies, misrepresentations, and other fundamental dishonesties are acceptable means to an end whether they're used in a shoe listing, representations to Wall Street, customer policies, or public statements.

Not content to be grossly dishonest, these overpaid third rate suits also display a singular lack of creativity.

Instead of cleaning up ebay or improving on the ebay concept they want to copy cat Amazon.

Instead of developing their own software, they steal it from others.

This is a gaggle of overeducated management sociopaths whose only goal is enhancing the next offering of stock options.

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Leonard

Sat Jun 21 22:10:48 2008

I don't know about ''people'' not liking auctions, but I'm a collector and I like auctions. They're fun and exciting. The stuff is in a collectibles auction is always unique--in form, features, condition, provenance. Who knows what it will sell for? What fun to bid and see!

If you have a business that is good for collectors, and there are lots of collectors around, why wouldn't you keep catering to collectors?

Because there have to be ever-ACCELERATING earnings to ensure the shareholders' shares continually appreciate. And there may not be enough collectors to provide this indefinitely, so KICK 'EM OFF THE BOAT.

This is capitalism in its most brutal form, as it's routinely practiced now. I have to laugh at references to ''collectivization'' as applied to this. People, you are being screwed, precisely, by the capitalism you revere!

Deteriorating societies provide such lovely ironies.





/

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by: Lisa

Sat Jun 21 22:24:43 2008

Regarding Lorrie's listings: 'Do as I say, not as I do.' And we're supposed to trust these people. Not a chance.

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by: billieboy

Sat Jun 21 22:43:27 2008

Tomorrow don't be surprised when eBay has a ''glitch'' and both the shoe auctions disappear..I would not put it past them to edit the auction reference  
out of the keynote address as well..or just
take the entire thing down...ooops
another ''glitch''

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sat Jun 21 23:19:02 2008

So the The Donna Ho brought his mommy and daddy to Ebay Live.

The Donna Ho should be spanked and sent to his room with any dinner, mommy and daddy. Your baby has been a very, very bad boy.

He's been lying and stealing and using bad words. Are you teaching him to be the next Ken Lay or is it that godless business school?

Mr. and Mrs. Donna Ho, be ashamed. Be VERY ashamed.

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by: buyer_on_the_bay

Sun Jun 22 00:26:48 2008

As a buyer, only, right now, I am very unhappy with the recent decisions by eBay corporate.  What was the purpose in my having 100% positive feedback that lets sellers know that I'm good to deal with when every scuzzy, scamming crook will, in a very short time, display the same percentage?

Also, I'm a niche buyer.  If I want cheap Chinese junk I'll go to Wal-Mart & save the shipping and time waiting.  I buy from eBay to get the things I cannot get in my small town.  I buy from the Mom & Pop seller in quite a few categories and avoid the big box eBayers.

Donohoe hasn't ruined the eBay experience only for sellers.  I'm already starting to buy elsewhere.

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: bonni

Sun Jun 22 05:06:50 2008

So, Lorrie Norrington is a dishonest seller (shoes she bought were "a gift") and she's such an astute businesswoman that she sells something she bought for half what she paid for it and thinks it's great, and also charges more for postage than any regular eBay seller would be able to get away with and still keep a decent rating (no matter how reasonable the postage might be for sending shoes to France). Oh, and she's also a Non Paying Bidder.

These are the people who are running eBay. No wonder honest sellers are getting screwed. Nobody in eBay management understands anything about honesty or fair dealing, it seems.

As for "wanting those eBay-like experiences, but on an Amazon-like platform," that's not going to happen. eBay is going to try it, I'm sure, and they'll end up being neither fish nor fowl.

I'm utterly convinced now that eBay is dying or already dead and just hasn't fallen down yet. I really have sympathy for the sellers who haven't yet found other suitable venues, because it's only a matter of time before it's all over...

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: Patrick Alexander

Sun Jun 22 12:34:09 2008

eBay will NEVER be like Amazon. For starters, Amazon has REAL customer service & zero fraud.

They are just wishful thinkers. And like my Grandma always said: ''Wish in one hand & poop in the other. See which one gets full the quickest..''

While Amazon was busy building their brand and improving at every opportunity, eBay was busy squandering an amazing amount of trust & goodwill. Instead of any meaningful trust & safety initiatives, they wasted billions of the shareholders dollars on companies that are now worthless and stock options & perks for those at the top of the food chain.



The panic for ''change'' you see now, is caused by the realization that the spigot all those bucks came out of is slowly drying up. Now they are faced with the stinking rot caused by YEARS of neglect. And of course they are blaming the sellers - their customers..

Sorry, but it looks like this company is now being run by clueless Bozo's. (No offense to the real Bozo, who I'm sure was a much smarter person than this bunch.)  ;O)

Perminate Link for Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification   Disconnect at eBay as It Moves toward Amazonification

by: billieboy

Sun Jun 22 23:21:14 2008

Ina ( or anyone else)
do an eBay search for
Cornflake Clodhoppers

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